We recently published an article about the New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie and his commitment to helping with the addiction problem in New Jersey.
In the article, it was mentioned that the Governor was working with The Center of Great Expectations. This is a very unique facility, and after researching a little bit about what they do, we thought it was an important topic to talk about and an important facility to highlight.
Mothers and Addiction
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless – almost 300,000 of America’s homeless are single women, mostly struggling with addiction and/or mental illness. Approximately 25,000 of New Jersey’s unmarried teens give birth each year. Although these numbers are small in comparison to the overall addiction challenges, they pose very serious and hard to solve problems for a multitude of reasons.
When an addicted mother gives birth this poses all types of questions with what to do with the child. Should the mother be required to attend treatment? Does the child go into foster care? Are there any other next of kin who can take care of the baby? For obvious reasons, these are all very tricky questions dealing with morality and motherhood. It is tough to know exactly what the right answer is.
The Center for Great Expectations – Who They Are and How They Work
Part of Gov. Christies commitment towards addiction treatment is working with The Center for Great Expectations. This center is unique in that it caters to homeless and addicted women who are single mothers or who are expecting a child. The center takes a proactive approach in dealing with the addiction issues head on.
Many times women will put their recovery on hold when they are mothers. It can be very difficult for a mother to put personal recovery ahead of caring for her child. Attending an inpatient treatment center is increasingly difficult when you need to find someone to take care of the kid.
Great Expectations has developed a program that may help with this problem.
“The Center for Great Expectations is the only licensed agency in New Jersey to provide housing and treatment for both adolescents and adult women who are pregnant and addicted to drugs and alcohol, and who want to carry their babies to term.”
In 1998, Founder and current President Peg Wright set to provide a program to support the 25,000 unmarried teens who give birth in New Jersey each year.
The Center’s first facility had only 6 beds, and was able to accommodate just 22 women a year, turning away over 150 adolescents and adult women due to lack of space. Dreaming of having a facility in which three times the number of women in need, and their children, could be welcomed into the program, Ms. Wright, the Board of Directors, and the staff embarked on an arduous Capital Campaign, eventually succeeding in raising $4.2 million. Soon, two beautiful buildings stood side-by-side, promising a quiet and tranquil setting for so many residents to-be.
But the dream did not end there. Ms. Wright and the Board looked ahead to providing transitional housing and outpatient treatment. In autumn of 2009, through a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), our Outpatient Treatment Program (“IOP”) became a reality. This program helps reduce the risk of HIV/AIDS in high-risk pregnant and postpartum women through a comprehensive system of gender-specific care.
There are very few facilities that do the work that The Center for Great Expectations does. Pregnancy brings a whole new set of challenges to addiction treatment and many times it is a road block for both the mother and the child.
Teengagers, Pregnancy and Addiction
To further complicate the issue, teenage pregnancy brings a whole new set of challenges. Many times when teenage women come in, they either dont know they are pregnant or are in denial about it all together. The goal is to build recovery for the soon to be mother while teaching parenting skills and other life skills that will equip to her to provide for herself and for her family. This includes…
- Parenting education, including infant stimulation and all aspects of infant care and knowledge and assessment of developmental stages
- Health education, including the pregnancy, childbirth, delivery, postpartum care of mothers and all health needs of children
Life skills development — including communication skills, nutrition and meal planning, budgeting, time management, anger management, self-advocacy, etc.
- Counseling services to the adolescent as well as to the father of the baby and the significant others of the adolescent’s family, or circle of support, to assist in reunification of the family
- Intensive case management, including coordination of all services with DYFS, CMO, YCM, Probation and other service providers involved in the adolescent’s life
- Academic and vocational services
- Psychological and psychiatric assessment
- Scheduling and transportation services and coordination to all medical, legal, social service appointments
Recreational component that promotes healthy social development in a drug-free and risk-free environment
We commend this facility for the work they are doing. Pregnancy and addiction bring forth issues that no one wants to deal with. It takes a special group of people to tackle such complex problems head on, and provide solution oriented treatment. It is a proactive approach that should be rewarded, and we are very glad to see Gov Christie putting funds towards this cause.
This is a subject that we plan to dig deeper into, and try to bring some awareness and perspective to single mothers out there so that they do not feel so hopeless and alone.